Originally I was going to use my column this week to explain why Muramasa: The Demon Blade is such a mythologically edifying game. And you know, aside from Okami, there’s probably no other modern game that is as deeply steeped in Japanese Mythology as Muramasa. But let’s face it: if you don’t already know about my love of the game from my numerous columns and editorials about it, one more article probably isn’t going to enlighten you to the perfection of the game any more. So instead I’ve turned a portion of my intellect into figuring how to turn American folklore into a video game– Hence Johhny Appleseed: The Apple of Fate.
Of course, Johnny Appleseed wasn’t the only option for a psuedo-historical entity that I could base a video game off of. There’s also Paul Bunyan (with companion Babe), Davy Crockett, or Daniel Boone. Indeed, the funny thing about a lot of American folklore is that it centers on people who did exist at one point, and the “facts” of the story paint them larger than life. Oh, some are completely made up, but other people actually did exist. I picked Johhny Appleseed, then, because the very nature of his character, a wanderer, seems to fit itself to a game best of all.
That’s not to say these other figures couldn’t also make an appearance in the game. In fact the traveling nature of Johnny Appleseed makes inclusion of all these other characters (though anachronistic) possible. But enough of my defense of the idea. Let me get into the meat and potatoes of the game.
You start as as Johnny Appleseed on a quest to find the best apples ever for your next journey. It could either be an adventure or platforming game, but either way you would journey across North America to find The Apple of Fate: the juiciest, most delicious apple of them all. Your enemies would be the wild animals you encountered along the way, from bears to coyotes to snakes. Birds, in particular, could feature as a recurring nemesis, since they would want to steal your apple seeds.
Along the way on your journey you’d come across other characters and situations from American folklore. Maybe you’d help Daniel Boone establish a settlement– thanks to your green thumb you would be a huge help in getting the crops planted. Maybe you’d fight alongside Davy Crockett at the Battle of the Alamo. You could even have a contest against Paul Bunyan in which you tried to plant trees while he tried to chop them down. Whoever had the most trees at the end– planted or logged– would be the winner. And these are just ideas off the top of my head.
The game would end with Johhny finding a grove full of the mystical apples and starting a new quest to seed the entire west coast with their delicious goodness. Is it a great game design? Well, it’s rough, but it has every opportunity of being great if the right developer were to get its hands on the idea. And I’m sure I’ve only touched the surface. It just goes to show, though, that its entirely possible for there to be a mythological game that was “Made in the USA”… so to speak.